Question 4


For me, there was an element of timeliness with the book, in these Covid-19 times when the group of people we tend to interact with directly is quite small. There's something in it about loneliness and solitude. Did these themes resonate with you? What other themes were there? Did they resonate?


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    While Piranesi was alone, he didn't seem to get lonely, since he had forgotten that other people exist. I, on the other hand, am quite lonely, even though I interact with people virtually quite often.

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    I liked the recurrent theme of personal devotion, largely to the bones of the dead but also to certain of the statues, the bird-life, and ultimately towards the world as a whole and its animating principle. It was a very neat way to explore a spiritual dimension in the absence of overt trappings. So I agree with @WildCard that Piranesi never comes across as lonely, since he believes himself to be in the presence of something very grand. "The Beauty of the House is immeasurable: its Kindness infinite".

    I also liked the odd snippets revealing his fashion sense, which was to say the least unconventional and delightfully so. Along with the fact that he never felt the occasional (very practical) gifts from The Other as in any way disjointed from the naturally-sourced items he usually uses.

    BTW, did anyone work out why Susanna Clarke capitalises Nouns (but not all of them)? I found it reminiscent of late 18th and early 19th century literature, but I have no idea why she would want to make this association seeing as how the events of the book have no link with that period.

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    She probably just got used to it with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel

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    I haven’t read anything else by her, and, since we were reading the character’s journal, I thought the capitalization was his. I didn’t know she did this in other writings.

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    I just meant that Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrel was set during the early 18th century, during the Napoleonic wars.

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    I mentioned in Q3 that the book could well be informed by Clarke's enforced solitude due to CFS, and the allusions to a Victorian style of Piranesi's life.

    @RichardAbbott 's point about devotion is a good one. Could we consider Piranesi as being like a monk or a hermit? Removed from mainstream life to contemplate the beauty of the world. But in this case, the solitude was enforced by Ketterley. What were his motives?

    How much of Piranesi's devotion is the response of a fractured mind to his situation? Is this devotion a natural state for all of us, if only we were removed from the world? Are we all naturally monks, just distracted by other people? (I suggest that @WildCard doesn't fit that mould.)

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    I didn’t get a loneliness or isolation vibe, but one of retreat, like when one seeks shelter for a tone in a monastery.
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